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 Sirat Rasoul Allah

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5- Night Journey

The apostle of Allah said, 'While I was asleep within the northern enclosure of the Kaba, Gabriel came and kicked me with his foot. I sat up, but perceived nothing; therefore I again laid myself down. He came again and the same thing happened again, but when he kicked me the third time he took hold of my arm, so that I rose and went with him to the gate of the mosque. And lo! There I saw a beast, white in colour, resembling part mule and part donkey, with two wings covering its hind legs, and with its forelegs placed as far as its sight could reach. [This was Buraq, the animal on which all prophets before Muhammad had been conveyed.] When I approached the beast to mount, it became restive, but Gabriel placed his hand on its mane and said, "Art thou not ashamed, o Buraq? No servant of Allah has yet ridden thee who is more favoured than Muhammad!" Then the beast became steady, and I mounted it.'

The apostle of Allah, accompanied by Gabriel, was transported to Jerusalem , where he found Abraham and Moses and other prophets. He went to them and prayed with them; then two vessels were brought, one containing wine and the othert milk. The apostle drank of the milk, but touched no wine, and Gabriel said, 'Thou art guided to the fundamentals of religlion and thy people likewise; wine is prohibited to them.'

Then the apostle of Allah returned to Mecca, and in the morning he told the Quraysh what had happened to him; but most of them exclaimed, 'This is obviously nonsense! Caravans take a month to travel from Mecca to Jerusalem and another to return! Could Muhammad go there and return in a single night ?' And many believers lapsed from the faith, and others went to Abu Bakr and said, 'What is your view concerning Muhammad, who imagines that he went last night to Jerusalem , where he prayed, and again returned to Mecca ?' Abu Bakr replied, 'If he himself has said so, he spoke the truth! What is there to astonish you in this? By Allah, he tells me that revelation comes all the way from heaven to him on earth in a single hour of the night or the day and I believe him! And this is a greater distance than the one which astonishes you.' Then he betook himself to the apostle and said, 'Describe Jerusalem to me; I have been there.' The apostle of Allah said, 'It was lifted up to me so that I might look at it and he described the town in such a manner that Abu Bakr said, 'You have spoken the truth! I testify that you are an apostle of Allah!' And every part of the town Muhammad described, Abu Bakr confirmed, saying, 'You have spoken the truth! I testify that you are an apostle of Allah!' When he had finished his description the apostle said, 'And thou, o Abu Bakr, art also truthful', and on that day he surnamed him Assidiq, The Truthful One.

The apostle of Allah was in the habit of saying: 'My eye sleeps while my heart is awake", but Allah knows best whether what was revealed to him took place in waking or sleeping state. The apostle of Allah gave his companions a description of Abra­ham, Moses and Jesus, as he saw them during that night. 'As to Abraham, I have never seen a man more resembling your companion [Muhammad] than he, nor your companion [Muhammad] resembling any other more than he. But as for Moses, he is a tall, dark, lively man with curled hair and a long nose; the son of Mary, is neither tall nor short, with flowing hair, and a countenance shining as if he had just come out of a bath, and you would imagine that water is dripping from his head although there is none on it.'

The apostle himself, according to his adopted son, Ali, 'was neither too tall nor too short, he was of a middling stature; his hair was neither too curly nor too flowing, it was like the hair of any other man. He was neither too plump nor too fat, and his complexion was pale, with a tinge of red. His eyes were large and black, his lashes long, his head and shoulder‑bones large, and the hair of his breast was scanty. His hands and feet were strong, he walked as if wading in water, and when he looked at anything he turned his whole person towards the object. Between his shoulders was situated the seal of prophecy, he being the last of the prophets, the most open‑handed of men, the most courageous, truthful in speech, the most faithful in protection, of the mildest disposition, and most gracious in converse. Whoever saw him unawares was awe‑struck, but those who conversed with him loved him.' Ali concluded, 'I have neither before, nor afterwards, seen the like of him.'

But neither the description of Jerusalem nor of the prophets convinced the people, so Muhammad continued, 'I passed near a caravan of one tribe in a valley, and the sound of my beast startled them so that a camel ran away; and I found it and directed them to it. And when I was in Dajanan I met a caravan of another tribe, and found the people asleep. They had a covered water vessel which I opened; I drank the contents, and covered it again as it had been. Their caravan is now arriving through the pass, led by a dark camel loaded with two bags, one of which is black and the other reddish‑brown.' The crowd hastened up to the pass, where the first sight they saw was the camel he had described. Then they asked the caravan about the water‑vessel, and were told that the tribe had put it down covered, and full of water, but although the cover was in the same state when they awoke, the water was gone. When the second caravan arrived in Mecca they confirmed Muhammad's other story, saying: 'He has spoken the truth. He did indeed scare us in the valley and a camel ran away, but we heard a man's voice calling us to it, and we found it.'

The apostle of Allah further said: 'When I had ended my visit to Jerusalem a ladder was brought to me, the like of which for beauty I had never seen before. This is the ladder which the dead yearn to see brought forth [that they may mount to heaven on the day of the last judgement]. Gabriel made me ascend this ladder until we arrived at that gate among the gates of heaven which is called The Gate of the Keepers. Over this, an angel of angels presides, whose name is Ismail and who commands 12,000 angels each of whom also commands 12,000. The hosts of Allah are known to Himself alone! When he took me in Ismail asked: "Who is this, o Gabriel? Has a prophetic mission been confered upon him?" Gabriel said: "Yes", and then Ismail congratulated me.

'The angels met me when I entered those heavens which are closest to earth, and not one  addressed me without smiling and congratulating me, until an angel of the angels met me who spoke to me and invoked happiness for me as they had done, but neither laughed nor was pleased like the others. Therefore I asked, ‘O Gabriel ! Who is this angel who has spoken to me like the others, but neither smiled nor manifested any signs of as they did?" Gabriel replied, "If he had ever laughed before, or was destined ever to laugh in the future, he would have with thee now; but he never laughs; he is Malik, the keeper of fire." Then I asked Gabriel who is empowered by Allah to be obeyed in that heaven I now describe to you and who is, moreover, the faithful servant of Allah, "Wouldst thou order him to show me the fire?" He said, "Show Muhammad the fires of hell!” Accordingly Malik removed the cover thereof, and it raged and ascended in such a manner that I thought it would devour all that I saw. Therefore I cried, "Order him to confine it again and the angel said, "Retire!" Then the fire returned to the place it had issued from, and when he replaced the cover upon it I cannot compare its disappearance with anything but the falling of the shadow of night.

When I entered the heaven which is next to the earth I beheld a man sitting therein, to whom the souls of men are delivered. With some of these he was pleased, and said, "A good soul issued from a good body." To others, however, he said with a frown on his countenance, "A wicked soul departed from a wicked body." I asked, "Who is this?" and Gabriel replied, “This is thy ancestor Adam, to whom the souls of his progeny are delivered; and if a faithful soul arrives he is pleased, but when an unbeliever’s  soul passes he is displeased and grieved."

After that I beheld men with lips like the lips of camels, having their hands filled with lumps of fire which they stuffed into their own mouths. The lumps of fire issued again from the other end of their bodies. I asked, "Who are these, o Gabriel?"and he replied, "These have wrongfully devoured the property of orphans!”

Next I observed men with bellies the like of which I had never seen, and on the road were crocodiles rushing upon them like mad camels and driving them into the fire, trampling upon them so that they could never escape from it. I asked, "Wlio are these, o Gabriel?" and he replied, "They are usurers."

'After that, I beheld men who had before them nice plump meat and at their sides foul and putrid meat, but they ate of the latter and abstained from the former. I asked, "Who are these, o Gabriel?" and he replied, "They are those who abandon the women Allah has permitted to them, and go instead to those whom Allah has prohibited to them." Then I saw women hanging by their breasts and asked, "Who are these?" .,\ml Gabriel replied, "They are women who attribute to their husbands children they did not father." The wrath of Allah is very great towards a woman who introduces into the family one who does not belong to it, to eat up their plunder and to observe their nakedness.

'After this, Gabriel took me up to the second heaven, and it contained the two cousins, Jesus the son of Mary, and John the son of Zakariah. Then he lifted me to the third heaven where I saw a man with a countenance like the full moon, and asked, "Who is this, o Gabriel?" and he replied, "This is thy brother prophet, Joseph son of Jacob." Next he made me ascend to the fourth heaven, where one man appeared, and when I asked, Gabriel said, "This is Idris." Then he raised me to the fifth heaven, which contained an aged man with white hair and flowing beard. I have never seen an old man more beautiful than he, and when I asked Gabriel, he said, "This is the beloved of his nation, Aaron son of Imran." And he raised me to the sixth heaven, where there was a dark man with a long nose. I asked, "Who is this, o Gabriel?" and he replied, "This is thy brother Moses, son of Imran." Then he made me go up to the se\'ciAl heaven, where I beheld an old man seated on a chair near the roof of the heavenly Kaba, which is entered daily by 70,000 angels who will not leave it till the day of the resurrection. I have never seen a man resemble your companion [Muhammad] more closely, nor your companion resemble anyone more than he. I asked, "Who is this, o Gabriel?" and he said, "This is thy ancestor Abraham."

Then Gabriel entered paradise with me, where I saw a black houri and asked her, "Who art thou?" because she took my fancy as I perceived her. She said, "I am destined for Zayd b. Haritha.'  Zayd, the freedman of the apostle, rejoiced at these glad tidings.

According to tradition, Gabriel did not ascend to a single heaven of the heavens without being asked 'Who is this, o Gabriel’? ' When he replied, 'Muhammad', he was again asked, ‘Has he really been sent as a prophet?' Then he was welcomed with, ‘Allah greet him on the part of his friend and brother.' This lasted till they arrived in the seventh heaven, where the

Apostle met his Lord, who made fifty daily prayers incumbent upon him. 

The apostle of Allah continued his story. 'Then I began my return When I passed near Moses, who was a good friend to man, he asked, "How many prayers have been made incumbent upon thee?" and I replied, "Fifty prayers every day." Moses said prayer is heavy, and thy people are weak. Go to thy Lord and ask Him to lighten it for thee, and for thy people." Accord­ingly I returned to my Lord and asked Him to alleviate it for me and for my people. And He deducted ten. I went away again and passed near Moses, who repeated what he had said before. So I returned and asked my Lord, who once more deducted ten; and I we     nt back to Moses, who sent me many times to Allah with the     same injunction, until so many prayers were deducted that only five prayers remained for each day and night. On this last occas   ion, when I returned to Moses, he repeated his words once more, but I said to him, "I have gone back to my Lord and asked him so many times that I am ashamed; therefore I shall do it no more." Nevertheless, whosoever among you recites these five prayers, believing wholly in their efficacy and validity, will receive the reward due for the fifty prayers originally prescribed’.

            At the season of pilgrimage [AD 622] Musab returned to Mecca with many of the Helpers as well as some idolaters. One who was the          re recorded: 'We went on the pilgrimage and promised to meet the apostle of Allah at the hillside [al‑Aqaba]. When the agreed night had set in we kept our errand secret from those of our people who were idolaters, except from Abdullah b. Amr, the prince. To him we said, "You are one of our princes and nobles! We fear that as an idolater, you will hereafter become fuel for the fire!" and we invited him to accept Islam and told him of our impending meeting with the apostle of Allah at the hillside. Then he made profession of Islam and came with us to the meeting. We lay down that night as if to sleep with our people and baggage, then left silently for the trysting‑place. We travelled warily and secretly like the sandgrouse, until we reached the pass by the hillside; there were seventy‑three men of us, and two of our women.

'The apostle of Allah came with his uncle al‑Abbas, an unbeliever who nevertheless wished to see his nephew conclude a firm alliance. Al‑Abbas spoke first, saying, "You know that Muhammad is our kinsman! We have protected him against those of our own people who oppose him. He enjoys dignity among his people, and protection in his country; nevertheless, he shuns them and wishes to ally himself with you. If, therefore you think you can keep your promise and protect him against his enemies, you may assume the burden you have undertaken; but if there is any likelihood of your surrendering and abandoning him after he has gone over to you, then leave him be for he is safer among his own people." Then we asked the apostle for his opinion and he said, "I call on you to protect me as you would protect your own women and children!" A man called al‑Bara then took hold of his hand, and swore, "We shall protect you against everything from which we protect our own selves. Accept therefore our allegiance. We are warriors who have inherited the right to arms."

'This speech was interrupted by Abul‑Haytham, who said, "We have ties with other men (he meant the Jews) which we should have to sever. If we do this, and Allah aids you to victory, will you not return to your own people and abandon us?" The apostle of Allah smiled and replied, "By no means. Blood is blood, and shedding is shedding; you belong to me and I to you’.

I shall fight those whom you fight, and I shall be at peace with him who is at peace with you. Bring me twelve leaders who may be charged with their people's affairs." And they brought nine men from the Khazraj tribe and three from the Aus tribe.

The apostle of Allah said to the twelve leaders' "You are the sureties for your people just as Jesus' disciples were, and I stand surety for my people." And they agreed.

Al-Abbas asked the people, "Are you aware of the conditions on which you pledge allegiance to this man? You pledge yourselves ­to him, to wage war against all and sundry. If your possessions should be ruined by misfortune and your nobles slain, and you should give him up, then you will reap shame in this world and the next. If, however, you think you can keep your promises in the face of all misfortune, then it will profit you in this world and the next ." They replied, "We shall take him even at the risk of losing all else", and turning to the apostle they asked, "But what will be our reward if we keep our promise?" He replied, “ Paradise " and they said "Stretch forth thy hand", and paid homage.'  

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